Mind and Body

FDA approves first-of-a-kind flu vaccine made with animal cell technology

MIAMI - NOVEMBER 03: Marina Spelzini, a registered nurse, measures out an H1N1 vaccine shot at the Miami Dade County Health Department downtown clinic on November 3, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  Unlike other parts of the country which are experiencing long lines and shortages of the vaccine, South Florida is not having this problem. The Miami-Dade County Health Department received 195,000 doses of the vaccine but has only given out about 10,100. Broward County has 52,000 doses on hand and has administered about 10,000 doses.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MIAMI - NOVEMBER 03: Marina Spelzini, a registered nurse, measures out an H1N1 vaccine shot at the Miami Dade County Health Department downtown clinic on November 3, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Unlike other parts of the country which are experiencing long lines and shortages of the vaccine, South Florida is not having this problem. The Miami-Dade County Health Department received 195,000 doses of the vaccine but has only given out about 10,100. Broward County has 52,000 doses on hand and has administered about 10,000 doses. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)  (2009 Getty Images)

The Food and Drug Administration says it has approved the first seasonal flu vaccine made using animal cell technology, rather than the half-century egg method.

The FDA approved Novartis' Flucelvax to prevent influenza in people 18 years and older.

The new method has been promoted by U.S. health officials because it is faster than egg-based production and could speed up manufacturing in the event of a pandemic.

In the older method, virus samples are injected into specialized chicken eggs and incubated. The egg fluids are later harvested, concentrated and purified into the vaccine.

With cell technology, small amounts of virus are put in fermenting tanks with nutrients and cells derived from mammals. The virus is then inactivated, purified and put into vaccine vials.